Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Maintenance Break Over

6 o'clock on a cold Tuesday morning.
We're ready to roll.
This is it. The break is over.

I took 3 months of personal leave from work, plus 2 weeks of vacation over the end of year holidays. The intention was to disconnect from work, do some hobby projects, and recharge my batteries.

As you can tell from the avalanche of blog posts over the last 3+ months:
Mission Accomplished. 

I finished two major model railroading scenery projects:
  • The Hallelujah paper mill at Silicon Valley Lines is operational and mostly scenicked. It's a lot more fun to operate an industry with buildings and recognizable loading areas, adding icing on the cake of a large operations-oriented layout.
  • The Emsingen station area is finished on the street side, and very close on the track side, closing a large scenery gap on the Welztalbahn. I refined my techniques and gained confidence in what I'm doing. 
Both projects likely would not have happened (or much, much slower) if I had not been able to put in a solid 6-8 hours of model building, days at a time. Nevertheless, as these are scenery projects, there's always opportunity for further detailing and fine-tuning in the future.

I threw in a trip to Germany to hang out with my parents for two weeks. While there, I did quite a bit of background research on the prototype Murrbahn, which is serving as inspiration for a future home layout.
I learned how Deutsche Bundesbahn handled freight traffic in the early 70's. Visits to the Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg, reading DB documents, and digging through the Drehscheibe Online historic forum proved to be particularly useful. Revised paperwork for the Welztalbahn made substantial progress.

I'm grateful to have a supportive employer and managers that encouraged me to take the time off, with the knowledge that I have a job waiting when I return.

Most importantly, the flexible schedule allowed me to go on almost daily walks with my wife, pick up the kids from school, and generally spend more time with family. I loved every minute of it. Along the way I discovered that I enjoy baking cake, and even built some furniture.

It was tough going back into the office this morning. The warm welcome by co-workers and friends made up for it. I'm looking forward to my new assignment which is already proving to be challenging and fun.

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